Review Summary: A stunning, beautifully produced and written electronic record.
In a word of literalists, genre-phobes, and music aficionados, electronic music would be right there at the top for number of sub-genres. The total amount could equate to hundreds. Electropop, Folktronica, Breakbeat, Glitchcore, Tribal House, Ambient House, Ambient Techno, Acid Techno, Acid Trance, Euro-Trance etcetera, etcetera. The abuse of the sub-genre category has damaged electronic music, to the point where repetitious and simple rave music groups have become the poster boys for electronic music, at least when looked at from the general public’s perception.
So what does Pantha Du Prince
fall under these days? Minimal Techno
, according to good ol’ Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, Minimal Techno is characterized by its “stripped-down aesthetic that exploits the use of repetition, and understated development”. This couldn’t be further than the truth, at least when it comes to Black Noise
Black Noise contains what seems to be an electronic version of the Phil Spector invented, Shoe Gazed abused “Wall of Sound” production. Pantha Du Prince produces layers of sweeping, visual-sparking electronic sounds, similar to the way post-rock and ambient groups operate. However the tracks are kept durable by the catchy, ever-changing beats. With the first track opening up with damaged sounding field recordings and droning frequencies, progressing throughout with childish tinkers and bells, running through spastic, hypnotic electronic beats, it would be far more appropriate to grace the album with Maximal Techno. Most of the tracks are under the same vein as Lay in Shimmer
, ala dense soundscaping that is kept in control by the rhythmic talents of Pantha Du Prince.
You could say that many electronic bands nowadays are very worthy of the term Minimal Techno. Not to generalize(but I will!
), but most modern electronic bands focus to heavy on groove-box repetitive beats and simple sequenced synth patterns. What’s so refreshing about Black Noise is its focus on texture and sound. Pantha Du Prince manages to throw in all possibilities, with sporadic synths, computerized effects, heavily manipulated samples, dense electronics, wild tribal rhythms etc. His “thing” with field recordings, electronic noise, and obscure sounds(think Animal Collective) is balanced with his electronic prowess, creating something original and good. His methodology is quite mysterious, perhaps the most so since the golden age of electronic music with Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. His songs are ever changing and progressing, sounding like a journey through the tribal jungles of some electronic, robotic, isolated island.
Like many obscure electronic records, Black Noise flows as a unit, devoid of particular major tracks, replaced with consistency and flow. While you’ll be likely to find amongst fans for various electronic groups’ favorite records, single individual songs are not a constant brought up subject in electronic music communities. This is no different with Pantha Du Prince. But besides that, the tracks featured on Black Noise certainly stand out in their own respective right. The Splendour
is filled with flowing, sweeping software synths over an icy, minimal beat. Im Bann
is an ambient, electro shoegaze track, with shimmering piano and oceanic distortion and glitches floating around the track. Satellite Snyper
sounds perfect for the clubs, with house beats and restrained, yet wandering synths gracing the track. The album ends much like it started, with destructive, droning electronics that are driven away by grooving rhythms, on Es Schneit
Near the end of the LP, there are a few tracks that seem to welcome the Minimal Techno sound, ala simple melodies and repetitious rhythms.
is a bouncy, little rhythmic track that is perhaps the only track to live up to the standard of Minimal Techno, creating what sounds like celebratory tribal music, ultimately sounding like something the blue people in avatar might dance to*. Welt Ahm Draht
flowing at a constant groove, with sorrowful drones making it one of the more unique tracks to be pigeonholed with its “Minimal Techno” genre name.
Panda Bear of Animal Collective is featured on Stick To My Side
, ultimately sounding like a remix with Noah Lennox’s signature 60’s-esque vocals mixed with the chilling bass-filled dance track created by Pantha Du Prince. This celebratory track extends to about 8 minutes, and is one of the more standout, beautifully constructed tracks on the album and the guest appearance of an Animal Collective member probably hasn’t hindered this.
Black Noise is essentially how all textural music should work like; it’s primary focus is an array of sound and electronically generated noises that sweep and clash and flow, but are guided by the beats and main structures that each track is based on, thus being well produced and well written. The album doesn’t appear to have a particular theme or conceptual idealogy driving the record, but just like Richard D. James Album
by Aphex Twin, it really is just a record of stylistically diverse and enjoyable electronic tunes.
“And that is,” to quote Chuck Klosterman “exactly what I want.”